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To disclose, or not to disclose? Context matters.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
European Journal of Human Genetics
1476-5438
Publisher
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
Volume
23
Issue
3
Pages
279–284
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1038/ejhg.2014.108
PMID: 24916647
Source
Medline

Abstract

Progress in understanding childhood disease using next-generation sequencing (NGS) portends vast improvements in the nature and quality of patient care. However, ethical questions surrounding the disclosure of incidental findings (IFs) persist, as NGS and other novel genomic technologies become the preferred tool for clinical genetic testing. Thus, the need for comprehensive management plans and multidisciplinary discussion on the return of IFs in pediatric research has never been more immediate. The aim of this study is to explore the views of investigators concerning the return of IFs in the pediatric oncology research context. Our findings reveal at least four contextual themes underlying the ethics of when, and how, IFs could be disclosed to participants and their families: clinical significance of the result, respect for individual, scope of professional responsibilities, and implications for the healthcare/research system. Moreover, the study proposes two action items toward anticipatory governance of IF in genetic research with children. The need to recognize the multiplicity of contextual factors in determining IF disclosure practices, particularly as NGS increasingly becomes a centerpiece in genetic research broadly, is heightened when children are involved. Sober thought should be given to the possibility of discovering IF, and to proactive discussions about disclosure considering the realities of young participants, their families, and the investigators who recruit them.

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